Christine Morton-Evans

The extraordinary Ellis Rowan was no mere 'lady flower painter'. To great effect, she cast herself in the role of 'intrepid lady explorer', and became as well known for her lively accounts of flower-hunting exploits as for her paintings.

Over the course of 50 years, she journeyed to many wild and inhospitable places in Australia and beyond, searching for her beloved wildflowers and wildlife subjects, always impeccably dressed in long skirt, high-button boots and wide-brimmed hat. At the age of 70, she ventured alone into the jungles of New Guinea, the first Australian woman to do so.

Hers was a solitary, dedicated life, but one coloured by enthusiasm, energy and optimism. She felt different and so became different, flouting the conventions of her time. Her curiosity about people, places and nature, and her ability to make friends of strangers, allowed adventures to fall into her lap.

This is her story, told through the wonderful paintings that form part of her collection of 970 works held by the National Library of Australia.